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Here we will provide an overview of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). Please carefully read through these materials and links that discuss NEON’s mission and design.

Data Institute participants: As you review this information, please consider the capstone project that you may want to work on at the Institute. At the end of week one, you will document an initial research question or idea and associated data needed to address that question, that you may want to explore while at the NEON Data Institute.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this activity, you will be able to:

  • Explain the mission of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON).
  • Explain the how sites are located within the NEON project design.
  • Explain the different types of data that will be collected and provided by NEON.

NEON Mission & Design

To capture ecological heterogeneity across the United States, NEON’s design divides the continent into 20 statistically different eco-climatic domains. Each NEON field site is located within an eco-climatic domain.

The Science and Design of NEON

Watch this 3:55 minute video explaining the NEON program.

Please read the following page about NEON’s mission:

Data Institute Participants – Thought Questions: How might/does the NEON project intersect with your current research or future career goals?

NEON’s Spatial Design

The Spatial Design of NEON

Watch this 4:22 minute video exploring the spatial design of NEON field sites.

Please read the following page about NEON’s Spatial Design:

Read this primer on NEON’s Sampling Design

Read about the different types of field sites - core and relocatable

NEON Field Site Locations

Explore the NEON Field Site map taking note of the locations of

  1. Aquatic & terrestrial field sites.
  2. Core & relocatable field sites.

Click here to view the NEON Field Site Map

Explore the NEON field site map. Do the following:

  • Zoom in on a study area of interest to see if there are any NEON field sites that are nearby.
  • Click the “More” button in the upper right hand corner of the map to filter sites by name, site host, domain or state.
  • Select one field site of interest.
    • Click on the marker in the map.
    • Then click on the name of the field site to jump to the field site landing page.

NOTE: Because NEON is still in it’s construction phase, not all field sites have online documentation. We are working on this!

Data Institute Participant – Thought Questions: Use the map above to answer these questions. Consider the research question that you may explore as your Capstone Project at the Institute OR about a current project that you are working on and answer the following questions:

  • Are there NEON field sites that are in study regions of interest to you?
  • What domains are the sites located in?
  • What NEON field sites do your current research or Capstone Project ideas coincide with?
  • Is the site(s) core or relocatable?
  • Is it/are they terrestrial or aquatic?
  • Are there data available for the NEON field site(s) that you are most interested in? What kind of data are available?

Data Tip: You can download maps, kmz, or shapefiles of the field sites here.

The Data that NEON Collects

How NEON Collects Data

Watch this 3:06 minute video exploring the data that NEON collects.

Read the Data Collection Methods page to learn more about the different types of data that NEON collects and provides. Then, follow the links below to learn more about each collection method:

Airborne Remote Sensing

Watch this 5 minute video to better understand the NEON Airborne Observation Platform (AOP), if you didn’t already on the AOP page.

Data Tip: If you are familiar with LiDAR and hyperspectral remote sensing data, checkout this more technical NEON AOP video.

Data Institute Participant – Thought Questions: Consider either your current or future research or the question you’d like to address at the Institute.

  • Which types of data may be more useful to address these questions?
  • What challenges, if any, could you foresee when beginning to work with these data?

Get NEON Data

NEON data are processed and quality control checked at NEON headquarters in Boulder, CO. NEON carefully documents every aspect of sampling design, data collection, processing and delivery. This documentation is freely available through the NEON data portal.

Read the following pages to learn more:

Data By Request & Through Other Online Portals

Currently, not all NEON data are accessible through the NEON data portal:

Specimens & Samples

An overview of how to get data, soil or species samples, and supporting documentation can always be found on the Get Data page.

Data Institute Participant – Thought Questions:

Use the Data Portal tools to investigate the data availability for the field sites you’ve already identified in the previous Thought Questions. If your desired field site doesn’t have data available for it, choose the next most desirable one that does have data available.

  • What types of aquatic/terrestrial data are currently available? Remote sensing data?
  • Of these, what type of data are you most interested in working with for your project while at the Institute.
  • For what time period does the data cover?
  • What format is the downloadable file available in?
  • Where is the metadata to support this data?

What Data Are Available Now?

Because NEON is still in construction, NEON data are not currently available for every field site.

Check out the NEON Data Products Catalog.

Data Tip: NEON also provides support to your own research including proposals to fly the AOP over other study sites, a mobile tower/instrumentation setup and others. Learn more here the Assignable Assets programs .

Data Institute Participants: Intro to NEON Culmination Activity

Write up a brief summary of a project that you might want to explore while at the Data Institute in Boulder, CO. Include the types of NEON (and other data) that you will need to implement this project. Save this summary as you will be refining and adding to your ideas over the next few weeks.

The goal of this activity if for you to begin to think about the project that you wish to work on while at the Data Institute. This project will ideally be performed in groups, so over the next few weeks you’ll have a chance to view the other project proposals and merge projects to collaborate with your colleagues.